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VSL for Chromatic Mountain Dulcimers

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Here's something new I've realized. I LOVE long diatonic mountain dulcimers, I mean from nut to saddle/bridge, the VS or vibrating string length. I generally like the tone better than shorter VSLs and enjoy playing up high more, The slides produce scales and this helps me overcome the fact that harder music is hard to play well on the mountain dulcimer. For chromatic, however, you don't get the diatonic scale slide advantage. I find I prefer a short VSL for chromatic mountain dulcimers. Any thoughts on this?

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Hi Stephen,

   I think you're spot on.  My first dulcimer had a scale length over 29 inches.  Even with large hands I find it a stretch to play some chords and there is a lot of movement going up and down the fret board. It does have a really nice tone though.  The instruments I play the most are 25-26 inch VSL and it's much more comfortable and easier to get around the fretboard.

   I've only dabbled in chromatic briefly (I'm still learning diatonic), but I think you're on to something with slides producing a diatonic scale.  I've recently started playing a dulcimer with a 1+ fret more often and it does make it a little more difficult to play tunes with slides across 1 to 2 and I find myself hopping the 1+ to avoid the out of scale note.

    What are some of your tips for getting started with playing chromatic?  It feels like a bit of a jump from diatonic where a lot of the music theory is built right into the fretboard 🙂

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